Anup Chetia, a pro-talks leader of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), has appealed his 'brother' Paresh Baruah, the leader of the anti-talks faction, to return home for peace talks.
Talking to Inside Northeast, Chetia says that the Government has to lend a ear to the ULFA's anti-talks faction. "Look, the ULFA (I) has called for discussions on Assam's sovereignty. However, they have not demanded sovereignty outright, they want discussions. Thus, I feel the Government should listen to their side of the story."
Chetia has also opined that the when the ULFA initially began its struggle, youths joined the insurgent outfit to assert the rights of the indigenous people, however, the struggle for complete sovereignty cannot exist in the modern context.
"When we joined the armed struggle in 1979, our main concern was the safeguarding of the rights, culture and language of the indigenous Assamese population. However, the times they are a changing, so you have to look at the struggle from a modern context. Now, the youths who join the ULFA, return after 6 months. Why? Because the love for nation and jati (nationhood) are on a decline among the youth. Youths who join the ULFA do so due a sense of being a Robin Hood-like character", Chetia said.
So, will Paresh Baruah listen to Chetia's appeal? Anup Chetia remains optimistic: "See, I have not met him (Baruah) since 1997, so it is possible that his mentality has changed. The peace process has been going on for a while now.. In 2011, the peace process started when I was in prison in Bangladesh and I, myself, joined in 2016. Now, if the Paresh Baruah-led faction joins the talks, we can finally ink an Accord."
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